SUGAR, DARLING?

BY NANCY WHITTINGTON-COATES

Nigella : A Life Long Love Affair


If someone ever asked me who I considered a celebrity role model, undoubtedly my answer would be Nigella Lawson. It won't be a surprise to many as not much has changed, but as a child and young teenager I spent a lot of time on my own and all I ever thought about was my future. I wasn't lonely per se as I had a group of good friends and from the age of about 12 I always had a boyfriend (who says fat chicks aren't popular with the boys) but I've actually always enjoyed my own company, using time alone to plan and dream of what's to come. One of my favourite things to do was snuggle up in our little living room with a blanket and some fruit tea and watch movies or cookery shows. No one would ever think that this would be a life changing thing to do; but little did I know that on that fateful night in 1999 when Nigella Bites flashed on to my screen I would meet the woman who would influence my young life more than anyone. 

Having a mother and a grandmother who are wonderful cooks means that I grew up feeling that cooking wonderful food for your family and friends was just another way to express your love for them so it's no wonder that I felt an instant connection with Nigella. What was more unexpected was that this warm, kind, motherly personality was wrapped up in a witty, humorous and pretty darn sexy package. I had never seen this type of a woman before but I instantly saw shining back at me the kind of woman I wanted to be, a mixture of all the things that I love made flesh - vintage influenced glamour and elegance, kindness and humour; someone cheeky and beautiful and intelligent and loving. She was everything I wanted to be and I was instantly smitten.


Naturally over the years I have followed Nigella in pretty much all she does, filling my recipe shelves with all of her books, watching all of her shows and collecting pretty much anything she has been featured in - including that legendary issue of Stylist magazine where the cover features her beautiful visage dripping with salted caramel! Her latest book Simply Nigella popped through my letterbox on Saturday morning conveniently just before I got home from a little shopping trip with lunch in hand; so I sat down immediately and flipped through from cover to cover. 

It is very fair to say that this is not like any book Nigella has written in the past and I know that some people have not received it well, but I really love the fresh approach she has take with Simply Nigella. It's true that this book isn't the treasure trove of indulgence that her past books have been but it is still a magical volume of comfort food that is easy to make, easy to enjoy and real. Not real in the 'eat clean' sense but real in that I believe this genuinely is what Nigella would cook for herself and her family, not overly styled, not full of complex steps that would stress out even the most confident of cooks but food that will make you feel wonderful. That isn't to say that there aren't some decadent recipes in here, after all there are about four different no churn ice cream recipes full of cream and sugar and eggs but these are balanced out with beautiful dishes that won't only taste smashing but make you feel great about eating them. 

Mr Coates immediately demanded her Thai Noodles with Cinnamon and Prawns but my first recipe to test out was her Apricot Almond Cake with Rosewater and Cardamom as it sounded the perfect thing to take with me when I visited my grandfather-in-law the next day for a little lesson in calligraphy. As you can see from the photographs it came out just beautifully and is the most moist, aromatic, delicate cake you could ever imagine. I made no edits and followed her recipe exactly (which you can find here if you would like to try it yourself) and it was a big hit with both my mother-in-law and grandfather-in-law and my poor husband didn't even get to try a piece!


I'm sure I'll be sharing more of my attempts at recipes from Simply Nigella but I highly suggest you grab a copy for yourself. Even if you aren't going to be cooking from it regularly I consider Nigella's books to be highly coffee table worthy with their beautiful photography and enlightening prose. I just adore her introductions to each recipe which are educational, emotional, evocative and just plain wonderful to read.

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* This post contains no sponsored content, I just bloody love Nigella! *
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